I’m in Northern Spain and September is harvest time for sunflowers. These nutritious treats are ubiquitous, munched at half time at the soccer, on loaves, in muesli. Tree nuts can be costly but tiny sunflower seeds are equally nutritious and very cheap.
From Sunflower to Food – what happens?
The salted sunflower snack that we crack open to eat the seed is usually prepared by soaking or boiling the seeds in salted water then roasting them. Although the seeds are high in calories, these are slow to eat and so long as the salt level isn’t high, we get a nutritious snack.
Whole seeds are mashed and processed to extract the oil – more on sunflower oil later.
Lots of calories but what about nutrients?
A 30g serve of sunflower seeds contains around:
16g fat – 6g mono-unsaturates, mostly oleic 7g poly-unsaturates, mostly linoleic
Around half our daily requirement for vitamin E – 10.6mg
A little calcium and iron, B vitamins and Vitamin A
Plus squalene and sterols both of which are associated with a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.
The raw seed is low in sodium
How About Cooking with sunflower oil?
On the face of it, sunflower oil looks good, excellent mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids, and a high smoking point (225). Oils like olive oil and butter have much lower smoking points which made them seem unsuitable for frying – but now we know better. Sunflower oil is great raw, but as with corn oil, at high temperatures they produce aldehydes which have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Canola oil is a better choice for frying.
For more on this: www.hippocraticpost.com/nutrition/toxic-truth-vegetable-oil/